|TLJ News from September 11-15, 2011|
Rep. Quayle Introduces Bill To Provide Section 404 Relief
9/15. Rep. Ben Quayle (R-AZ) and others introduced HR 2941 [LOC | WW], the "Startup Expansion and Investment Act". This bill would provide an exemption from the reporting requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 for certain companies with "a total market capitalization for the relevant reporting period of less than $1,000,000,000".
The exemption would only be available for the first ten years after going public. The exempted company would have to disclose to investors in its annual report that it has exercised the exemption. Under current law, ompanies with a total market capitalization of under $75 Million are exempted from the Section 404 reporting requirements.
The "Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002" was HR 3763 in the 107th Congress. It is now Public Law No. 107-204. Its main sponsors were former Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) and former Rep. Mike Oxley (R-OH).
Small publicly traded high tech companies have long complained that Section 404 imposes onerous burdens on them, while providing little benefit to investors.
Also, in 2006 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report [93 pages in PDF] titled "Sarbanes-Oxley Act: Consideration of Key Principles Needed in Addressing Implementation for Smaller Public Companies". See also, story titled "GAO Reports that Section 404 of Sarbanes Oxley Burdens Small Public Companies" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,366, May 9, 2006.
Rep. Quayle stated in a release that this bill "removes one of the many regulatory hurdles that inhibit many companies from going public. Access to the public capital markets is vital for a company to expand and hire new workers. Removing regulatory burdens results in economic freedom which leads to more economic growth."
The other original cosponsors of the bill are Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS), Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), and Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL). It was referred to the House Financial Services Committee (HFSC).
Section 404, which is codified at 15 U.S.C. § 7262, is titled "Management assessment of internal controls". It provides as follows:
(a) RULES REQUIRED- The Commission shall prescribe rules requiring each
annual report required by section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange
Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78m or 78o(d)) to contain an internal control report,
(1) state the responsibility of management for establishing and maintaining an adequate internal control structure and procedures for financial reporting; and
(2) contain an assessment, as of the end of the most recent fiscal year of the issuer, of the effectiveness of the internal control structure and procedures of the issuer for financial reporting.
(b) INTERNAL CONTROL EVALUATION AND REPORTING- With respect to the internal control assessment required by subsection (a), each registered public accounting firm that prepares or issues the audit report for the issuer shall attest to, and report on, the assessment made by the management of the issuer. An attestation made under this subsection shall be made in accordance with standards for attestation engagements issued or adopted by the Board. Any such attestation shall not be the subject of a separate engagement.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted rules in 2003.
The massive Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, enacted in 2010, at Section 989G(a), added a new subsection 404(c) that has the effect of exempting companies with sub $75 Million market caps from the reporting requirements of subsections 404(a) and (b).
Senate Judiciary Committee Begins Mark Up of Data Privacy and Security Bill
9/15. The Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) held an executive business meeting at which it began its consideration of S 1151 [LOC | WW], the "Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2011".
It also held over consideration of S 1408 [LOC | WW], the "Data Breach Notification Act", and S 1535 [LOC | WW], the "Personal Data Protection and Breach Accountability Act of 2011".
All three bills are again on the agenda for the SJC executive business meeting on September 22, 2011.
Also, the Senate Commerce Committee (SCC) announced that it would mark up S 1207 [LOC | WW], the "Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2011" at its executive session on September 21, 2011. However, the SCC then postponed that meeting.
S 1151 would create a federal data broker regulation regime, and a data security regime. It would create a federal data breach notification regime, and criminalize certain acts of failure to disclose data breaches. It would also amend the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which is codified at 18 U.S.C. § 1030, to include conspiracy. See, story titled "Senate Judiciary Committee to Take Up Data Privacy, Security and Breach Bills" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,299, September 1, 2011.
The SJC approved by unanimous consent an amendment in the nature of a substitute [65 pages in PDF] on September 15 offered by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). See, Sen. Leahy's summary [6 pages in PDF].
The SJC also approved by unanimous consent a second amendment [13 pages in PDF] offered by Sen. Leahy that further amends the substitute. This amendment, among other things, takes away from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) authority to amend the definition of sensitive personally identifiable information. See, Sen. Leahy's summary [2 pages in PDF].
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the ranking Republican on the SJC, stated at the meeting that "I'm concerned that given over 9 percent unemployment and a renewed focus in Washington on creating jobs, this legislation may have the opposite effect. While we've focused on protecting information, we’ve not focused on protecting jobs. This bill will likely drive up costs through even more burdensome regulations. A company that hasn't even suffered a breach may find itself unable to afford compliance with this bill's new requirements. Small businesses, which create most of the jobs in this country, may end up closing, or at least not hiring, when they've done nothing wrong. We need to be smart with new regulatory burdens to ensure that consumers are truly protected, while fostering economic growth and not stifling it."
He added that the data breach notice "should not include burdensome requirements where there is little or no risk of identity theft." Also, "The enforcement and liability provisions shouldn’t create the potential for abuse from overzealous prosecution. The provisions in this bill run the risk of abuse and inconsistent enforcement. These and other issues need to be resolved."
The SJC also approved by voice vote an amendment [2 pages in PDF] offered by Sen. Grassley and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) that would amend the CFAA to provide that violation of the CFAA cannot be based solely upon violation of the terms of service of a web site.
The CFAA contains several criminal and civil prohibitions, one element of which is "exceeds authorized access". The CFAA currently provides that "exceeds authorized access" means "to access a computer with authorization and to use such access to obtain or alter information in the computer that the accesser is not entitled so to obtain or alter".
The Grassley Franken amendment would change this definition to the following: "to access a computer with authorization and to use such access to obtain or alter information in the computer that the accesser is not entitled so to obtain or alter, but does not include access in violation of a contractual obligation or agreement, such as an acceptable use policy or terms of service agreement, with an Internet service provider, Internet website, or non-government employer, if such violation constitutes the sole basis for determining that access to a protected computer is unauthorized". The amendment adds the language shown in red.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has construed Section 1030 to reach cyber bullies who violate the terms of service (TOS) of a social networking web site, and those who make automated online ticket purchases from Ticketmaster in violation of its TOS.
See, stories titled "Lori Drew Pleads Not Guilty in Section 1030 Case" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,784, June 23, 2008, "Law Professors Argue for Dismissal of MySpace Section 1030 Prosecution" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,810, August 11, 2008, "Jury Returns Guilty Verdict in Lori Drew Case" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,865, December 2, 2008, and "Associate AG Perrelli Discusses Cyber Bullying" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,123, August 11, 2010.
Sen. Grassley stated that "I think many Americans would be shocked to hear that every day, they may be violating federal criminal law without knowing it, simply by violating website service agreements or employee computer access agreements."
FTC Proposes Changes to COPPA Rule
9/15. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a notice [122 pages in PDF], that will also be published in the Federal Register, that announces, recites, describes, and requests comments on, proposed revisions to its rules that implement the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
The COPPA), which is codified at 15 U.S.C. §§ 6501-6506, bans operators of web sites and online services that are directed to children from collecting information from children under thirteen without parental consent.
The COPPA was S 2326 in the 105th Congress. S 2326 was enacted into law as part of a large omnibus appropriations bill in October of 1998. See, TLJ story titled "Internet and Tech Bills Become Law", October 22, 1998. See also, TLJ web page titled "Children's Online Privacy Protection Act" (1998).
The FTC adopted implementing rules in 2000, and retained them in another proceeding in 2005.
Comments are due by November 28, 2011. As of the September 21, 2011 issue of the Federal Register, the FTC had not yet published this notice.
The FTC proposes, among other things, to expand the definition of "Personally Identifiable Information" to include geolocation information, tracking cookies used for behavioral advertising, and audio and video filed that contain a child's image or voice.
The FTC also proposes to change the definition of "collection" to allow web site operators to allow children to participate in interactive communities, without parental consent, so long as the operators take reasonable measures to delete all or virtually all children's personal information before it is made public.
The FTC also proposes new rules for data minimization and deletion.
Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV) stated in a release that "I commend the FTC for proposing a much needed update to the COPPA Rule". He added that "This important children's protection law must meet the challenges of the 21st century. COPPA was passed over a decade ago, and the online and technological landscape has changed considerably since then. I think everyone would agree that we need to do more to protect our children's online privacy, and today's proposal helps in that effort."
People and Appointments
9/15. The Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) held an executive business meeting at which it approved by voice votes the nominations of Edgardo Ramos (to be a Judge of the USDC/SDNY), Andrew Carter (USDC/SDNY), Jesse Furman (USDC/SDNY), and Rodney Gilstrap (USDC/EDTex).
9/15. The Department of Commerce's (DOC) National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) published a notice in the Federal Register that announces updates to the version of the Manual of Regulations and Procedures for Federal Radio Frequency Management with which federal agencies must comply when requesting use of the radio frequency spectrum. See, Federal Register, Vol. 76, No. 179 Thursday, September 15, 2011, Pages 56984-56985.
FCC OET to Conduct Trial of White Space Database System
9/14. The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) issued a Public Notice that states that "on September 19, 2011, it will commence a 45-day public trial of Spectrum Bridge Inc.'s TV band database system."
This PN states that "This is a limited trial that is intended principally to allow the public to access and test Spectrum Bridge’s database system to ensure that it correctly identifies channels that are available for unlicensed TV band devices, properly registers those facilities entitled to protection, and provides protection to authorized services and registered facilities as specified in the rules."
Harold Feld of the Public Knowledge (PK) stated in a release that "It's vitally important for our economy, for innovation and for consumers that development of devices built around white spaces go forward. This trial is an important first step to a new era of communications and other technologies."
This PN is DA 11-1534. See also, FCC release.
9/14. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) introduced HR 2930 [LOC | WW], the "Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act", a bill to amend the federal securities laws to provide for registration exemptions for certain crowdfunded securities, and preemption of state laws. Under this bill crowdfunding means raising $5 Million or less through issuance of securities during one year, and individual investments limited to the lesser of $10,000 or 10% of the investor's annual income. It was referred to the House Financial Services Committee (HFSC).
9/14. The National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Computer Security Division (CSD) released its draft SP 800-107 Revised [24 pages in PDF], titled "Recommendation for Applications Using Approved Hash Algorithms". The deadline to submit comments is October 31, 2011.
9/14. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) introduced S 1545 [LOC | WW], a bill to designate Taiwan as a visa waiver program country under section 217(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Sen. Inhofe stated in a release that "Both the United States and Taiwan are dedicated to strengthening commercial, education, and cultural ties, and this legislation is another step in fulfilling our commitment. This legislation will permit Taiwan to participate in our nation’s visa waiver program and allow the Taiwanese to travel to the United States for a short period of time without obtaining a visa. Removing this red tape will improve our nation's relations with Taiwan while providing a positive economic impact." It was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC).
9/14. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and others introduced HR 2918 [LOC | WW], the "Taiwan Policy Act of 2011". It states that its purpose is "To strengthen and clarify the commercial, cultural, and other relations between the people of the United States and the people of Taiwan, as codified in the Taiwan Relations Act". It states, among other things, that "It shall be the policy of the United States to encourage visits by cabinet-level officials between the United States and Taiwan to foster commercial, technological, and people-to-people exchanges." It also states that "It is the sense of Congress that the ultimate goal of trade negotiations with Taiwan should be the negotiation of a free trade agreement with Taiwan". It was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC), House Judiciary Committee (HJC), and House Ways and Means Committee (HWMC).
9/14. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing recent Hart Scott Rodino (HSR) grants of early termination of the waiting period provided by law and the premerger notification rules. See, Federal Register, Vol. 76, No. 178, Wednesday, September 14, 2011, at Pages 56760-56762.
9/14. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the merger of Cumulus Media and Citadel Broadcasting. FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who constantly complains about media consolidation and the state of news reporting, stated that "The wheels of media consolidation spin on. ... Time after time and in market after market, there are fewer independent options and fewer local voices. To pass FCC and DOJ muster, Cumulus-Citadel needs to divest only 14 stations." He asked rhetorically, "isn't it time to ensure that we have some public interest guidelines so that consumers and citizens can be assured of at least some level of local programming, real news about real issues, independent production, and coverage of issues of interest to the diverse populations that make up local communities?" See, Copps' release.
ITIF Releases Recommendations for Spectrum Reform
9/13. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) released a paper [33 pages in PDF] titled "Spectrum Policy for Innovation". The author is the ITIF's Richard Bennett.
This paper states that the US economy is hamstrung by out of date spectrum policies. As a result, "Ten times more Americans use mobile phones than watch over-the-air television, yet TV broadcasters have exclusive rights to more spectrum than the four largest mobile networks."
This paper recommends giving the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authority to conduct incentive auctions, and that non-participating broadcasters should be reassigned or repacked "to digital TV channels shared with other non-participating broadcasters. The current allocations for TV broadcast spectrum are overly generous". And eventually, over the air TV should be eliminated.
This paper also recommends that the FCC "phase out existing application-specific licenses", such as for broadcast TV. License holders should be allowed flexibility. It also recommends "a second DTV transition that redefines DTV as an application provided by multi-purpose networks".
This paper also recommends that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) "should develop a plan to privatize the spectrum currently assigned to government agencies. This plan may resemble the incentive auction system".
Also, the "national public safety network proposed by S. 911 should not be built because it’s an unnecessary fragmentation of spectrum for a special purpose that’s not as special as its advocates believe. Public safety has failed to demonstrate a single application that can’t be implemented over a general-purpose LTE network running standard IETF protocols."
9/13. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) and others introduced HConRes 77, a resolution expressing the sense of the Congress that Taiwan should be a member of the United Nations. It was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC).
9/13. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and others introduced HR 2909 [LOC | WW], the "Emergency China Trade Act", a bill to end PNTR status for the PRC. It would provide, among other things, that "normal trade relations treatment shall not apply to the products of the People's Republic of China, and normal trade relations treatment may not thereafter be extended to the products of that country". Rep. Sherman stated in a release that "China has abused the trading relationship in many ways, from currency manipulation to the piracy of intellectual property. That is why I have introduced legislation to revoke Most Favored Nation status from China until the President establishes a more level playing field between our two nations". It was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee (HWMC).
9/13. The Copyright Royalty Judges (CRJ) published a notice in the Federal Register requesting comments on a motion for partial distribution in connection with 2010 DART Sound Recordings Fund royalties. Comments are due by October 13, 2011. See, Federal Register, Vol. 76, No. 177, Tuesday, September 13, 2011, at Page 56483.
Rep. Smith Introduces Bill to Mandate Use of Government Databases to Determine Employment Eligibility
9/12. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and others introduced HR 2885 [LOC | WW | PDF], the "Legal Workforce Act", a bill to make the federal government's E-Verify program mandatory.
The E-Verify program is an information technology (IT) based national identification system, one use of which is to transfer responsibility for enforcing immigration law to employers. It would require all employers to participate in a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) run program that is based upon accessing electronic databases that include names and social security numbers (SSNs).
This bill is premised upon the assumptions that the government is capable of creating an IT based system that can enable employers to ascertain whether job applicants are eligible to be employed in the U.S., and that by effectively preventing ineligible persons from working, aliens will have little incentive to illegally enter into or stay in the US.
There is already a federal E-Verify program; however, employer participation is voluntary.
Rep. Smith (at right) stated in a release that "E-Verify is a web-based program that quickly identifies individuals working illegally in the United States and protects jobs for legal workers by checking the Social Security numbers of new hires."
He also criticized President Obama for not seeking such a mandate. Rep. Smith stated that "Last week, President Obama gave yet another job creation speech that was aimed at protecting one job -- his own." Rep. Smith added that "if President Obama is indeed focused on putting 23 million unemployed or underemployed Americans back to work, there is one element that is missing from his jobs plan: a federal E-Verify requirement."
This bill has 14 original cosponsors, all of whom are Republicans.
The program is currently voluntary. It was created by Title IV of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, Public Law No. 104-208. The program is codified at 8 U.S.C. § 1324a notes. This bill would expand the program, and make it mandatory, and permanent. Other bills, introduced in prior Congresses, were not enacted into law. See, for example, HR 3308 [LOC | WW], the "Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement Act of 2009" or "SAVE Act", in the 111th Congress.
The HJC is scheduled to mark up this bill on Thursday, September 15.
The HJC held a hearing on February 10, 2011. See especially, prepared testimony of Richard Stana of the Government Accountability Office (GAO). He wrote that there are "erroneous tentative nonconfirmations (TNC), or situations in which work-authorized employees are not automatically confirmed by E-Verify".
HR 2885 would provide that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) "shall establish and administer a verification system" that "responds to inquiries ... through ... toll-free electronic media concerning an individual's identity and whether the individual is authorized to be employed".
The bill would also require the DHS to maintain "records of the inquiries that were made" and "of verifications provided (or not provided)". (Parentheses in original.)
The bill would require the DHS to compare "the name and social security account number provided in an inquiry against such information maintained by the" U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) "in order to validate (or not validate) the information provided regarding an individual whose identity and employment eligibility must be confirmed". (Parentheses in original.)
The SSA databases contain errors. This can cause the DHS to return an erroneous TNC that wrongfully prevents a person from working.
Second, an employee may list his or her name in a manner that is not consistent with the SSA's listing of that same person. This too can cause the DHS to return an erroneous TNC that prevents someone from working.
Stana testified that in Fiscal Year 2009 about 2.3 percent of queries resulted in final determinations of ineligibility. He added that the error rate for false negatives is unknown because of employees who do not contest their determinations.
Third, illegal immigrants who are ineligible to work can circumvent the process by assuming the identity of eligible persons. The E-Verify program erroneously verifies their eligibility for employment. Stana wrote in his prepared testimony that "identity fraud remains a challenge because employers may not be able to determine if employees are presenting genuine identity and employment eligibility documents that are borrowed or stolen. E-Verify also cannot detect cases in which an unscrupulous employer assists unauthorized employees." Stana's prepared testimony does not attempt to quantify these false positives.
To address the problem of identity theft, the bill provides that SSNs that have been the subject of "multiple use in the employment eligibility verification system", or "otherwise suspected or determined to have been compromised by identity fraud ... shall be blocked from use" by this E-Verify program.
The bill provides that victims of identity theft, and any other "legitimate holder of the number" would then have the burden of proving their right to work.
In addition, the bill would all but eliminate legal recourse for individuals who have been wrongfully terminated or denied employment as a result of erroneous operation of the E-Verify system.
The bill would provide that the only recourse for "an error of the verification mechanism" is under the Federal Tort Claims Act, and the only remedy is an injunction to correct the erroneous information. The bill would also prohibit class action litigation.
The bill would also subject both employers and workers to criminal prosecution, and imprisonment, for violation of the mandates contained in the bill.
The bill would also create a "Biometric Employment Eligibility Verification pilot program".
The bill enumerates two purposes for this national identification system -- to enforce immigration laws, and to "assist in the protection of the critical infrastructure". Nothing in the bill limits future expansion of the uses of this system. However, the bill provides that this would be an electronic database system; the bill does not authorize the issuance of "national identification cards".
Rep. Smith stated in his release that the system will be "quick, and easy to use". In contrast, the bill provides for "confirmation or a tentative non-confirmation of an individual's identity and employment eligibility within 3 working days". Also, in the case of "tentative non-confirmation", the DHS may take another "10 working days" to provide a final response. Moreover, the DHS "may extend this deadline". Hence, the DHS could take as long as it wants to render a decision as to whether any individual is eligible to work.
See also, story titled "DHS Expands E-Verify to Include Passport Photo Matching" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,153, November 11, 2010.
This is not Rep. Smith's only bill pertaining to the use of electronic databases to pursue government policy objectives. He is also the sponsor of HR 1981 [LOC | WW], the data retention bill passed by the HJC on July 28, 2011. See, stories in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,278, August 3, 2011.
US China Commission Reports that PRC Uses Foreign Assistance to Promote Its Telecom Sector
9/12. The U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission released a paper titled "China's Foreign Assistance in Review: Implications for the United States".
This paper states that foreign assistance provided by the People's Republic of China (PRC) is growing, and potentially undermining the policy objectives of foreign assistance provided by democratic governments, such as government reform, market reforms, human rights, and democracy.
This paper reports that the PRC is using foreign assistance to gain access to oil, gas and other natural resources, to isolate Taiwan, to gain access to foreign consumer markets, and to promote its telecommunications sector.
The paper states that "China's foreign assistance has grown dramatically over the last decade, challenging established notions of what foreign aid consists of and how it should be invested. China often focuses its assistance on its own strategic objectives and economic needs, such as developing infrastructure to expand access to oil, gas, and other natural resources needed for China’s development, and increasing market access for Chinese products."
This assistance "lacks requirements that come with Western aid such as governmental reform and human rights protections". However, "China does expect beneficiaries of its aid to meet certain standards of its own, such as diplomatic loyalty on issues such as Taiwan". Its goal is "isolating Taiwan" and deterring other nations from "engaging with what China considers a rogue province".
The paper states that this foreign assistance is often conditioned on access to domestic consumer markets. For example, "as part of China's $20 billion loan package to Venezuela in 2010, the Venezuelan government was required to use a portion of the funds to purchase 300,000 consumer appliances from the Chinese company Haier as well as to use Chinese companies to extract the oil needed to pay back the loan."
The PRC is also using foreign assistance to promote is telecommunications sector. It states, for example, that "China's commercial and development assistance often go hand-in-hand in Africa, especially in the telecommunications sector. In 2009, China invested $10 billion in developing Africa's telecommunications and extractive industries, making China the largest single investor in Africa." (Footnote omitted.)
The paper continues that "Loans to fund and operate telecommunications infrastructure have been tied to China's state-controlled companies Huawei and ZTE, which together have been awarded more telecommunications contracts in Africa than any other telecom company in the world. For example, in 2007, Zambia was granted a $48 million loan from China to improve the country's telecommunication sector. Huawei was contracted to provide all equipment and services for the loan. A 2009 China Export-Import Bank loan to Zimbabwe will fund, among other things, a fiber-optic network under the Indian Ocean to the East African Submarine Cable System, with the condition that all technology and services be contracted from Chinese companies." (Footnotes omitted.)
The paper adds that "These developments suggest a risk that Chinese telecommunications infrastructure may edge out U.S. businesses from regional markets. A 2011 U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission report noted that as China expands its telecommunications goods and services in emerging markets, it is able to influence the development of telecom standards, thereby increasing the ability of Chinese companies to compete in those markets." (Footnote omitted.)
Senators Lieberman and Collins Address Online Islamic Radicalization
9/12. Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), the Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), the ranking Republican on the Committee, sent a letter to John Brennan, Assistant to the President of Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, that addresses, among other topics, "radicalization on the internet".
This letter responds to the August 1, 2011 report [12 pages in PDF] of the Executive Office of the President (EOP) titled "Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States". The Senators' letter states that the President's framework does "not adequately address" internet based threats. It recommends encouraging the private sector to support countervailing voices on the internet.
The EOP framework stated that "we will continue to closely monitor the important role the internet and social networking sites play in advancing violent extremist narratives. We protect our communities from a variety of online threats, such as sexual predators, by educating them about safety on the internet, and we are using a similar approach to thwart violent extremists. We will work to empower families and communities to counter online violent extremist propaganda, which is increasingly in English and targeted at American audiences."
"We will challenge this propaganda through our words and deeds", is all that the EOP framework offers.
The two Senators' letter also discusses the SHSGAG's May 8, 2008 report [24 pages in PDF] titled "Violent Islamist Extremism, the Internet and the Homegrown Terrorist Threat". The Senators' letter states that "we have made little progress since in addressing this global propaganda venue, while the Islamist extremists are constantly expanding their we presence."
The letter states that "Once confined to a handful of password-protected Internet forums and sporadic web sites, Islamist extremists are now skilled at using social network platforms, like Facebook and YouTube, to spread their message and target recruits. This is particularly true for American recruits, whose familiarity with social networking sites has led them to radicalize where they are most comfortable -- sites that did not even rate a mention in our report at the time."
"We are frustrated that the Framework does not adequately address the role of the Internet in recruitment, radicalization, and mobilization of U.S. citizens because, as our report documented, time after time it has been the main conduit for lone-wolf terrorists and small Islamist cells here in America to receive indoctrination and training. Even the most successful engagement strategy will fail to reach these kinds of individuals who are disengaged and find encouragement and validation for radicalization online."
The letter states that "In order to reach such ``lone wolves´´ before they are fully radicalized and ready to attack, the government needs to have a meaningful strategy for countering radicalization on the Internet."
The two Senators recommend that the EOP issue an "appendix devoted specifically to countering online radicalization. This strategy should include plans to encourage the private sector to aid the numerous Muslim-American groups and community leaders who oppose Islamist extremism in setting up and maintaining their own professional-quality Internet platforms to counter the terrorist message."
9/12. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), and Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) introduced HR 2899 [LOC | WW], the "Chinese Media Reciprocity Act of 2011". The bill only applies to government controlled news media. There is very little US government media, in the People's Republic of China (PRC), or anywhere. This bill pertains to the issuance of visas to any "state-controlled media worker from the People's Republic of China". Its coverage includes, but is not limited to, a list of twelve covered entities, including the Xinhua News Agency. It provides in part that the Department of State (DOS) "shall revoke a sufficient number of visas issued to state-controlled media workers from the People's Republic of China so that the remaining number of such visas does not exceed the number of visas issued by the People's Republic of China to nationals of the United States who are employees of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and who seek to enter the People's Republic of China solely to engage in such vocation." The bill does not address PRC treatment of reporters employed by US media companies. It was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
9/12. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced S 1544 [LOC | WW], the "Small Company Capital Formation Act of 2011". The bill would exempt certain small securities offerings (less than $50 Million in 12 months). However, the issuer would still be required to file audited financial statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) annually, and the SEC may require the issuer to "electronically file with the Commission and distribute to prospective investors an offering statement, and any related documents". It was referred to the Senate Banking Committee.
9/12. The Department of Commerce's (DOC) National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published a notice in the Federal Register requesting comments regarding "possible features of a new nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network". The deadline to submit comments is 5:00 PM on October 12, 2011. See, Federal Register, Vol. 76, No. 176, Monday, September 12, 2011, at Pages 56165-56167.
9/12. The Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) published a notice in the Federal Register that announces, describes, recites, sets the effective date, and sets the comments deadline for, it interim rules changes regarding "areas of eligibility to expand or improve 911 access and integrated emergency communications systems in rural areas for the Telecommunications Loan Program". The effective date is September 12, 2011. The deadline to submit comments is November 14, 2011. See, Federal Register, Vol. 76, No. 176, Monday, September 12, 2011, at Pages 56091-56094.
to News from September 6-10, 2011.